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Review

Karolina Wiercigroch

Quality Wines

££££
Karolina Wiercigroch

Triple threats are rare. How often do you find a singer that can also dance and weep on command like Meryl Streep in the middle of an accident at the local onion farm? Or a Nobel prize winning scientist who’s also a tennis pro and a concert pianist on the weekends? Answer: hardly ever. That’s exactly why people who are triple threats are so impressive. And so are triple threat restaurants.

Quality Chop House is an excellent restaurant in Clerkenwell that’s very talented at doing what it does best, classic British food. But its younger sibling - and next-door neighbour - Quality Wines manages to be an excellent lunchtime cafe, nighttime restaurant, and wine bar all rolled into one. Oh, it’s also a shop. So, technically, it’s a quadruple threat. Whether you swing by at lunch for a piece of saint-nectaire and end up leaving with a hot salt beef sandwich, or a glass of wine and some jamon de bellota on a Tuesday night, you’ll realise that this place is not only a spot of many talents, but a spot that knows how to make some downright tasty food.

Take their evening small plates. They’re hey-lardo-toast-meet-wine-you’ll-be-great-friends dishes, done right. A couple of bites into something like their veal and pork meatballs and you can imagine many of London’s other wine bars slow clapping with a forced smile like they just lost Best Picture. Then, for a weekday lunch, there’s a rotating menu of hot and cold sandwiches that you should categorically not eat whilst walking back to your office. We repeat, do not attempt a low-key sandwich stroll. Mostly because, with this much roast chicken, pork collar, and sauerkraut going on, it would be a waste not to sit down and show these sandwiches the respect they deserve. But also, importantly, because you’ll probably end up with garlic mayo down your top.

Even if the food at Quality Wines wasn’t as good as it is, we’d probably still hang out here just for the wine. And the space. There’s a couple walls of bottles, neatly stacked ingredients in the shop next door, a counter, some stools, and a few small tables. By day it has the feel of an idyllic little village shop. By night, it becomes the kind of cosy, charming hideout where you gather around a couple of candles and decide that another glass is in order just because you’re having such a lovely time. But you won’t feel sad when you leave, because you know you’ll be back. Of course you will. There’s always an excuse. You just need a bottle of wine, a sandwich, some fresh octopus from their shop. And then, if you end up sitting down for a salted caramel brownie or a full dinner, that wouldn’t be so terrible would it?

Whether you bring friends, or that relative that swears they can tell exactly where each grape in the sip of their riesling was spawned, they’ll like it here. They’ll be relaxed, romanced, impressed. Because this place is good at everything it does. If Quality Wines was a person it’d probably have already run off to join RADA, waltzing its way into the Top 40 with a ballad about burrata. But that’s the best thing about a restaurant that’s a triple threat - there’s absolutely zero threat that it’s going anywhere.

Food Rundown

Gilda

This is exactly what a gilda is meant to be - super salty and a bit of a flavour slap. No nibbling, get it down in one for full effect.

Giulia Verdinelli
Lardo Battuto Crostino

Translation: pig fat on toast. Of course it’s a winner. This is probably one of the best combinations of meat and bread you can eat with a glass of wine. And this place is a pro at all three.

Giulia Verdinelli
Burrata

You’ve had burrata before and you’ll probably have it again. When you do, make it this one. It’s really good.

Marinda Tomatoes, Blood Orange, Olives, Capers, And Oregano

One word: fresh.

Giulia Verdinelli
White Asparagus, Egg Yolk, And Bottargo

A decent dish that sort of reminds us of the jolly sunshine baby in Teletubbies. The bottargo makes it taste more exciting than your standard white asparagus fare.

Giulia Verdinelli
Veal And Pork Meatballs, Passata, And Parmesan

Ever said ‘I love you’ to a meatball? Okay, apart from that time you got trapped in Ikea. You’re about to say it again.

Boudin Noir, Navarre Chickpeas, And Chermoula

This is the kind of excellent dish that makes other most other wine bars’ attempts at food look like Pierce Brosnan attempting to sing. Get involved.

Hot Salt Beef Sandwich With Sauerkraut And Pickles

Alert, alert, this is an excellent salt beef sandwich. The healthy dose of sauerkraut keeps it from being too dry.

Salted Caramel And Chocolate Brownie

There’s freshly baked sweet treats here daily, but this is our favourite. If it’s on, buy two to avoid any salted caramel separation anxiety.

Hot Chicken Sandwich With Baby Gem And Garlic Mayo

This, right here, is how you do a sandwich. Sure, it’s technically the same species as those sandwiches you buy in a packet from Boots, but this is so much better. The garlic mayo really makes it.

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